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The Good Life

No marketing campaign was necessary for these purveyors of positively charged t-shirts.

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This story appears in the June 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In 1994, brothers John and Bert Jacobs were hawking their T-shirt designs on college campuses and sleeping in their van when John, now 37, scrawled the beret-wearing smiley face, Jake, on a wall. When 48 T-shirts featuring Jake and the phrase Life is Good sold at a street fair in a matter of hours, they knew they had something great.

In the retail market, Jake's positive message reso-nated with merchants, who couldn't keep him on the shelves. Soon, the Boston business was fielding orders nationwide, catapulting Life is Good to more than $40 million in 2005 sales. Beyond a few trade shows and industry ads, word-of-mouth has been their sole marketing method. In 2002, the company also created a charitable division to stage fundraisers for children's charities and spread the good word.

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